Guess What We Brought to F’s Housewarming Party?!

We had a rather stormy start, F and I.

We’d met at work, supposed to be in the same team. But she was unbelievably hostile towards me right from the beginning.

 

The thing about me is that I’m actually A LOT more sensitive than I let on. I don’t mean that I get all sensy about things, but that I can pick up vibes and nudges and all that jazz quickly and easily. So although I could feel her very strong dislike for me, I didn’t bother much about it. I don’t need my colleagues to like me for me to feel happy.

You see, the other thing about me is that I’m chill about these things. I may pick up vibes that someone’s hostile towards me, but I usually can’t be bothered. It ain’t my lifelong mission to make everyone like me. I can live with just having a small circle of friends, and I already have that small circle of friends. I don’t need nor want to be popular.

I really don’t care.

 

So even though I’ve observed or felt certain things, I don’t usually say or do anything about it unless necessary. And I try not to let it get to me, bother me, or let it get in the way of work.

 

But strangely, over time, F‘s hostility went down a little and we started to have more meaningful exchanges. And then over somemore time, we even became more friends than colleagues.

By the time I left the team a year later, we were pretty close. In fact, she even became a part of one group of my friends. F would sometimes join us for dinner, and a small group of us even traveled to Malacca together once.

Yea, it’s funny how things pan out in life sometimes *shrugs*

 

Anyway, F and I were playing with FACE Q, an app to create avatars earlier today. We created avatars for ourselves and also for each other, and then we compared ^o^

Here, check out my FaceQ version of F!

Butter is the name of her corgi, and F hates getting caught in the rain coz it nearly-always makes her fall sick.

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And here’s her own version of herself!

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Okie, F knows her own face better. Gotta say hers really does look like her real self!

 

Now let’s check out mine!

Here’s my first try of my own face… *sheepish*

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And here’s F‘s creation of how she thinks I look like.

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Okie, looks like I suck at this FaceQ thingy ^o^

Hers is better, even for my face! My hair’s not so fluffy since I got it rebonded a month ago. And although it’s short now, people still associate me with long hair. F commented that my eyes are kindda big… hmmm, but hey, I got the red lippie, black clothes and mole down pat!

But but but F had to remind me to add the yellow crown! Aigooooo… how could I have missed out on that?! Me VIP leh! And ya, me also known as the pink princess in certain quarters, bwahwahwah!

 

So fun! Go downloand FaceQ and play!

You can choose hairstyle, hair colour, face shape, skintone, shape of eyebrows, eyes, lips, etc etc etc! The hand gestures and all are pretty cool too!

 

And… talking about F, she’s just moved into her new place and we’d gone to her housewarming party over the weekend!

Fwahwahwahwah, guess what we’d brought her?

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Yesssss! Toilet rolls!

When we brought it into the flat, F‘s mom was taken aback and asked if we were seriously giving them toilet rolls! (I hope F has explained things to her by now!)

Actually, we were only joking. You see, in Korea, the popular housewarming gifts really do include toilet rolls and laundry detergent!

 

In Korea, housewarming parties are called Jipdeuri (집들이), and people often bring toilet rolls.

Toilet rolls sorta symbolize that things will roll smoothly and good things will keep happening just like how the toilet rolls roll!

As for laundry detergent, it actually means that prosperity (wealth) will multiply, just like how the detergent can create endless suds that keep multiplying.

And hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Just go google, or you can click HERE and HERE to read all about it.

 

Of course we prepared a ‘serious’ housewarming gift too, on top of the toilet roll, hee! Here’s hoping all will be well and happy with F and her family at their new place.

 

Of Serendipity & Productivity

Just a month ago, everyone was lamenting at how fast the year 2014 had passed us by. And now, I’m exclaiming,

WHOA…! IT’s FEBRUARY ALREADY?!

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Gosh, 1/12th of the new year has sped by! February is a short month and what with the CNY festivities, won’t be long before February, too, will be over. So scary how time flies, ya?

Seize the day, peeps, seize the day!

 

Anyway, I wanna share my maiden outing to a Japanese vegetarian restaurant! Two of my (lovely!) colleagues are vegetarians and I’d gone for lunch with one of them last Friday. She’d brought me to HERBIVORE at Middle Road.

You can click HERE and HERE for more reviews of Herbivore.

 

Located at Fortune Centre, which is supposedly the mecca for vegetarian food… I didn’t know it till last Friday! Gotta say I ain’t terribly familiar with vegetarian food, although I did have a one week’s worth of vegetarian food when I was in Chennai, India, some years back. (And I loved it!) But Herbivore has a lovelier-than-imagined atmos.

From the outside, it looks more like a western setup, some casual diner. The inside is dimly lit and there’re ‘candle-light’ at every table. Nice ambience! I was very, very pleasantly surprised!

 

There were four of us, and we’d ordered two side dishes to share. One was the cheese shitake ($15) which came highly recommended by two of my colleagues who were there before.

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The cheese shitake was superrrrrrb!! Okie, you gotta first know that I love cheese and I also love mushroom, so I could be very very biased ^o^

But they were so goooood! My only advice for you? Eat ‘em while they’re hot, and eat ‘em while they’re still there!

 

Okie, other than cheese and mushroom, I also love love love avocado. I know how this sounds, that my love is cheap… but no…! I really really do love all of them very very much! You cannot even begin to imagine the extent of my love for food, hee!

Here’s the yummylicious avocado roll ($12)!

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The texture’s fab! And I savored every morsel, every bite!

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For my main, I’d gone with the 10-kind sushi ($18) coz I was curious how vegetarian sushi would taste like…

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To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. AT ALL. I mean, how would vegetarian fish slices taste like? Were they supposed to taste like fish? But how? And wouldn’t it be, like, weird? But what if they didn’t taste like fish? Then what would they taste like?

Hehe, if you’re curious like I was, you really should keep an open mind and try Herivore!

My verdict? There’re hits and misses. I’d liked some of the sushi more than the others. But they’re very, very surprisingly good and near-authentic!

It helped that I liked their wasabi; seems like Herbivore uses pretty decent grade ones.

 

And another colleague order Teriyaki Chicken ($12). I stole a piece and it was yummy! Hehe, it actually tasted a little like bakwa and bakwa is love is love is love!

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It was quite funny… The chicken looked and tasted so much like the real thing that I actually blurted out mid-meal, “Hey, how come you’re eating chicken? You’re coughing and ain’t supposed to eat chicken!”

My colleagues broke into giggles… Well, how could that be chicken if we’re at a vegetarian restaurant?! *sheepish*

 

The ambience and the plating helped too. And of course, the wonderfully warm company I had last Friday added to the overall fab lunch experience. Thanks for bringing me to Herbivore, Jes!

 

And… one other thing that was rather unexpected is that…

Herbivore uses an e-menu system!

 

Yup, there’s a tablet at every table and diners can browse through the e-menu, which is sorted by side dishes, appetizers, sushi & sashimi, grill & tempura, noodle & stir fry, bento set, western, etc. Just order what you want by clicking on the item and you can also adjust quantity in case someone else in your party wants the same thing.

Here, sample e-pages of the e-menu!

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The order will be sent to the kitchen once you’re done and yup, yup, they’ll start preparing your food!

So, that was last Friday.

 

And this is really random, but I love love love it when serendipitous stuff happens! The feeling is almost like having all the stars aligning in two perfect rows for you to pass through or something!

I heart serendipity!

 

Earlier today, this post appeared on my Facebook wall.

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Since it’s shared by someone I have a rather healthy dose of respect for, I clicked through the link CALM DOWN SINGAPOREANS, THE COUNTRY IS NOT THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOR YOU.

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Gotta say although not exactly very recent, the blog post is one fantastic read.

 

Not only does it put things into perspective, it’s a also very much needed reminder for us all that it’s important to stuff with context and perspective. So what if the survey was published by EIU? The context’s still important.

Do yourself a favour, fellow Singaporeans, go read both PART 1 and PART 2.

It’ll help you reason things better, It may even help you go through your life here better. And yea, it’ll teach you not to get your panties in a twist.

 

And… I was talking about serendipity?

Not long after I’d read the two-parter by Jay Teo, this Facebook post floated along my Facebook radar.

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I’m a fan of VULCAN POST and am one of those rooting for them to eventually evolve into something like the Mashable or Fast Company from our side of the universe.

So, yea, I clicked into THE CHEAP BETTER FASTER ARTICLE.

 

Guess whose name I saw in the article?

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Jay Teo…!!

And he’s started BIGSPOON, which is a mobile app that helps restaurants jump onto the e-menu bandwagon!

See what I mean by I really love it when all the stars align?! Hehe, I know this is random, but it feels almost exciting how things connect!

 

Anyway, I got a little intrigued by this Jay Teo person and I got to reading up a little about him. Hehe, other than HIS PERSONAL BLOG, I also found something interesting that he had uploaded on HIS SLIDESHARE ACCOUNT about a year ago.

 

He’s listed four main reasons why Singapore’s F&B labour crunch is here to stay:

1. Disadvantageous foreign worker policy
2. Lack of local workforce
3. Negative Singaporeans’ perception of F&B jobs
4. Lack of work satisfaction

 

You can more of Jay Teo’s thoughts on this subject HERE.

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It’s been a year since that post.

Unfortunately, things have not gotten better for the F&B labour shortage situation in Singapore. We’re still hearing about how restaurants are struggling to even have the bare minimum number of staff for normal periods, let alone to have more staff to cater to increased business during the festive seasons.

I’ve even heard of restaurants closing for lunch and also cutting short their operating hours because they just can’t seem to find enough staff. Read more HERE.

Of course, expansion is also extremely challenging. Not the easiest of times for the F&B operators. So other than to try and keep trying to recruit and retain staff, the other way is automate whatever they can automate, and to be more productive.

 

And it doesn’t just hurt the so-called nicer, bigger restaurants. Coffee shops, hawker centres and food centres are facing the same manpower challenge.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when even the KATONG LAKSA outlet at Holland Village has also adopted technology to counter the manpower challenge.

 

Have you been to Holland V for laksa?

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There are two terminals and a stack of ‘UFOs’ at the entrance of the Katong Laksa coffee shop.

Just enter your order into the touch-screen terminal, take one of the numbered UFOs and go in to wait your turn. It’s the same system whether you’re eating in or taking away.

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The UFO will buzz when your order is ready. Or you can also look out for your number on the big screen inside the coffee shop.

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Collection is at the counter, and you also pay upon collection.

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And… enjoy! *nom nom!*

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I suppose businesses will get more and more creative with their solutions and be more receptive to using technology to solve their manpower shortage issue. I wonder what other forms of innovation there could be.

These technological advancements and trends ain’t lost on the leading food bloggers too. DANIELFOODDIARY has recently blogged about the ordering system at Insadong Korea Town. LADYIRONCHEF; has also written about how restaurants are using technology. Pretty interesting, so go read!

 

Meanwhile, I’ll leave the info on Herbivore in case anyone’s keen to try out some Japanese vegetarian food soon ^^

 

HERBIVORE JAPANESE & WESTERN VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
Hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm & 5pm-10pm
Sat-Sun 11.30am-10pm
Tel: +65 6333 1612
190 Middle Rd, Fortune Centre, #01-13/14
Singapore 188979

 

P.S. Now I know why I had even bothered to take pics when I was at Katong Laksa. Hehe, it’s for this serendipitous post where a lunch outing at a restaurant with an e-menu can evolve into a blog post on productivity!

 

Image Credits: bigspoon.sg

Do You Instagram?

Lots and lots of people Instagram. Do you?

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Yes, yes, I know that INSTAGRAM IS THE FASTEST GROWING SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK. But for some reason, despite the app being on my homescreen, I just hardly ever check it. Yup, I’ve an account with very few followers, and I also don’t follow many people.

 

I TWEET (A TEENY WEENY BIT) BETTER THAN I TAKE IG PHOTOS!

Even though Facebook growth is kindda stagnant, it is still the largest in terms of user base. But but but, my go-to social media app is really the one that people are slowly moving away from, yup, Twitter.

 

What’s it with me anyway?

Why do I nearly always like the least popular things? And mind you, that’s even when I know perfectly well or can predict accurately which is the ones that are gonna fly. I just somehow have an unexplainable affinity for the ‘underdogs’, the least favoured ones *shrugs*

 

I like Twitter for its brevity. I don’t really follow friends on Twitter, not many of my friends are there anyway. But I love the ease of use, the brevity of it all. And I love how it doesn’t play God like Facebook does. It delivers ALL the tweets of the Twitter accounts I choose to follow.

Another fab feature Twitter has its list function. Check mine out!

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I like how neat, fast and short Twitter is.

With the list function, I can call up any of them (I group them by category and interest), and can catch up on the latest news or gossip very very quickly, especially on the go. And if I see any that I’m interested in, then I click in.

 

PICKING BONES WITH INSTAGRAM

Anyway, this post is about Instagram, haha!

Guess I’m just a lot more textual than visual, therefore the appeal of Twitter is more stronger than Instagram. Especially after a while, Instagram feeds seem to be an endless parade of fashion, food, glam gals, fashion, food, glam gals.

總覺得有些虛榮有些空洞。
手機滑滑一下很快就看膩了。

 

Two of the pet peeves I have about Instagram are that I can’t click on links in the Instagram post, and that I can’t zoom in.

 

Resharing is also troublesome. I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike stuff that are overly complicated or lay-lay-chay-chay.

 

DO YOU REGRAM?

But but but, things improved A LITTLE after I found this app called REGRAM 7.

Actually there’re many similar regram apps, it’s just that this was the first that I’d downloaded and tried, so I stuck with it since it worked decently enough for me.

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With the Regram app, you can actually zoom into the image! Ya, just pinch and stretch as you would with images on your mobile devices. Easy-peasy.

That’s not all! You can also regram easily. The app allows you to credit the original uploader and also allows you to add whatever comments or tag whoever you want.

 

Check this Instagram post that I’ve regrammed.

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HAHA, I INSTAWEATHER!

Since I’m already yakking away about Instagram, I might as well ‘bare all’ and share with you two other things. Or maybe everyone is already using these, haha!

I also have two other Insta apps that I usually only use when I’m overseas.

Me really likey the Instaweather app!

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Here, check out some of the skins.

I like how you can actually ‘freeze’ that moment in time and ‘record’ the temperature and other details.

Fab for peeps like us who live in the tropics and hardly experience any variation in season and temperature, ya?

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I INSTAPLACE TOO!

Heard of the Instaplace app? It’s also a pretty neat app to have when you’re on hols or traveling!

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Here’s a sample of what you can do.

There’re lots more, so do download and play if you don’t already have this.

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For both Instaweather and Instaplace apps, you can either take photos in-app, or you can always take the photos first and then import into the apps to apply the skin over.

Do note that for the latter, you might wanna leave some white space around the border, or the top or bottom for where you want the Instaweather or Instaplace text to go onto.

Okies, I’m done with all the Insta business! Hope it’s useful.

 

Meanwhile, you can also go read MY POST ON FACEBOOK.

 

Welcome to NTUC, Minister Chan Chun Sing!

Have you heard, have you heard, have you heard?

NTUC has announced its LATEST ADDITION to the Labour Movement’s highest decision-making body, the Central Committee, yesterday evening.

 

Yup, it’s Mr Chan Chun Sing, current Minister for Social and Family Development.

 

So… at the historical moment of the evening on 23rd Jan 2015, I found myself seated in the function room at One Marina Boulevard to witness this announcement by NTUC’s SECRETARY-GENERAL (SEC-GEN) LIM SWEE SAY to the union leaders.

The room was crowded, very crowded and I saw how they had to add rows after rows of chairs.

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Well, it’s not every day that NTUC gets a new Deputy Sec-Gen, who could very well end up being elected to be the new Sec-Gen.

 

Here, the letter that NTUC sent to PM Lee to ask for Minister Chan.

Ya, you heard me right.

NTUC had asked for the man.

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And here, PM Lee’s reply.

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In Singapore, labour relations are one of a kind, in that it’s actually a tripartite system and it actually works. The symbiotic relationship between the ruling party and the Labour Movement has been established from a long time ago.

NTUC believes in the MERIT OF HAVING A VOICE IN THE CABINET.

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NTUC’s FLOW-ON POLICY

All the world over, many union leaders hang on to their power till they’re old. And I mean, really old, Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say has shared that he’s even seen union leaders not passing the baton to the next generation even when they’re in their 80s and can barely walk.

So in 2011, NTUC’s Central Committee decided that their leaders will flow on and make way for new blood once they hit 62. Sure, they may remain as advisors or whatever, but they must relinquish their official positions.

 

Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say shared,

“We are proud to have a flow-on system. Some countries, when some people become union leaders, they don’t want to step down. Individually we’ll grow old and slow down. Collectively the NTUC cannot slow down.”

 

Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say will be turning 62 come July 2016. The plan is for him to step down by the next NTUC National Delegates’ Conference (NDC; NTUC’s internal election for their Central Committee). NDC happens every four years, and the next one will be in Oct 2015.

This means that NTUC will need to elect a new Sec-Gen come October this year.

 

So, as part of succession planning, the Central Committee has been deliberating for a long time over whom they’d like to have. They eventually decided on Minister Chan Chun Sing and hence wrote to PM Lee about releasing Minister Chan to NTUC.

 

And… this is only the first step. PM LEE had said Minister Chan Chun Sing can join NTUC part-time for now, and be full-time come April.

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NO FREE LUNCH! THE NEW SEC-GEN NEEDS TO BE ELECTED

This announcement DOES NOT mean that Minister Chan will be Sec-Gen automatically. He will have to be elected into the Central Committee at the next National Delegates’ Conference (NDC).

 

For now, Minister Chan will be Deputy Sec-Gen at NTUC. He needs to stand for and win the election at NDC in October 2015 in order to become Labour Chief.

From now till then, Minister Chan Chun Sing will need to quickly learn the ropes and warm himself up to the union leaders and members in order to win hearts and votes at NDC.

 

Here’s how EX-ST EDITOR BERTHA HENSON, aka THE TROUBLEMAKER put it,

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: IT’s ALL GOOD… (FOR ME!)

As far as first impressions go, I think it couldn’t get any better. After Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say’s candid talk with the union leaders yesterday evening, he welcomed and introduced Minister Chan Chun Sing into the room.

He was wearing a green NTUC polo, which is a step in the right direction in winning hearts, hehe!

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When he stepped into the room, the vibes were warm and positive. The union leaders appeared to be receptive to him too as they were seen welcoming him warmly.

Was nice that Minister Chan Chun Sing made the effort to walk slowly into the room, taking the time to make eye contact and to shake hands.

After all, he only had one chance to make a first impression, ya?

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When Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say was doing the introduction and opening for Minister Chan Chun Sing, I could see that he was attentive and all suitably smiley.

He even gamely played along when Sec-Gen Lim teased him about YOU-KNOW-WHAT, LOL!

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When it was Minister Chan’s turn to speak, he was quite engaging. Disarmingly charming in a very local and down-to-earth way.

 

He spoke about how he’s a very simple guy, and how when he was little, HE WANTED TO BE A LIBRARIAN.

Despite his MIGHTY IMPRESSIVE ACADEMIC BACKGROUND, you know, RI, Cambridge, MIT… there were no airs, slang or twang about this man. He spoke Singaporean English, and he engaged the audience with stories about how he’d sorta grew into his military career. Haha, at one point, he even told his family he’d be managing a platoon of 28 men forever! But we all know that he became the Chief of Army!

 

During the short session yesterday, he also said,

“Over next few years, I want to learn from you and understand issues that are close to your hearts and your ideas, to continue this dream of ours, that our lives will continue to improve, the lives of our children will continue to improve, and that one day we will not just celebrate SG50 but we will celebrate SG100 together.”

 

Although the session was a short one, it was a positive and warm one. I think that augments well for the beginning of a new chapter for the Labour Movement in Singapore

As far as first impressions go, I’d say it’s pretty fab.

 

At the end of the session, Minister Chan make sure he lock eyes and hands with the union leaders as he walked past them towards the exit.

And get this, he didn’t just leave! He stationed himself right before the exit and tried to shake everybody’s hand as they left the room.

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I like this man already!

 

And lest anyone thinks that he’s born with a silver spoon coz of his sterling education background, NOPE, HE’s NOT. He actually grew up poor. His parents were divorced when he was pretty young. His mom brought him and his sister up.

He was a bright kid who’s presumably interested in his schoolwork, coz it was all the bursaries and scholarships that put him through school.

I thought it’s some kind of impressive.

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Then I got curious and started googling a little about Minister Chan Chun Sing last night.

 

I found AN OLD ARTICLE where he spoke about his family. Oh, he has three children and his wife is (was?) a civil servant. His oldest is a daughter and was 11 years old at the time of the interview.

Here, he was talking about people ‘scolding’ him… and he’s right. For politicians, it’s never just about the scrutiny and pressure of it all taking a toll on themselves, it’s also hard on the family.

Kindda heartbreaking to read.

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The more I read, the better assured I am about the potential new Labour Chief Singapore might be getting.

People who had worked with him all had such sparkling good things to say about him! And lots are saying it’s MSF’s loss, and NTUC’s gain that he’s joining the Labour Movement.

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He has big shoes to fill, as Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say has done a lot for the workers during his tenure and he has also initiated and oversaw many programs that benefit both the low wage workers and PMEs.

Sec-Gen Lim has his fans. And he has built a strong rapport and a relationship of trust and openness with the union leaders.

 

Socio-political blogger DANIEL YAP had this to say about Sec-Gen Lim,

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And, BERTHA too said she likes Sec-Gen Lim Swee Say.

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Meanwhile, I’ve also come across A RATHER TOUCHING POST by Alex Yam, MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC (Yew Tee).

He shared his personal story of mentorship and friendship with Sec-Gen Lim.

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See what I mean about big shoes to fill?

With a membership base of over 800,000 strong, and with the mission of building better jobs and better lives for the workers of Singapore, Minister Chan has his work cut out for him. It’s a big and meaningful portfolio that he’ll be taking up, one that will impact lots of lives too.

 

For now, MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING seems geared up to go, so leggo!

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